Welcome To The Muse Academy (Video Brochure)

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“30 Days To Heightened Creativity in Business and Personal Life”  a 30-day workbook to learn and apply creativity skills by Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. will come out June 1, 2017.  Purchase price:  $39.00 – and that comes with 3 of Heidi’s best art prints of your choice.  Use the Paypal buttons here to purchase — and include $5.00 for postage/handling, then email Heidi with your mailing address.  Email:  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com .  Heidi is available for creativity coaching and consulting for an hourly fee of $70.00, payments can be made using these Paypal buttons.  Thanks, and I look forward to connecting soon! — HH


A Poem For You by Mary Oliver

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
This poem was written by the great poet Mary Oliver. http://maryoliver.beacon.org/
Outside my window where my computer and art table is situated, a shaft of hot bright spring sunlight is blasting off the misty gray lead of winter-spring and its quiet ruminations which have circled in on themselves.
It is time  —  it beguiles me –  to get out there and slog through the muddy grasses with a puppy who has not yet experienced spring and all its accordant smells and vapors and attitudes and surprise adventures and stunning dismay.
Well, off we go now, to put on our shlomping shoes,  and attend to our wild and precious life.
Thank you for this poem, Mary Oliver. http://maryoliver.beacon.org/
–Heidi Hansen

The Attic Keeper

Dark wind whipping at the sun window.  Blackness outside the sun window. Dark storm rattling the glass, daring to push open the latch, nearly busting through.
The attic shook.
The Attic Keeper did not.
For it was not a windstorm threatening to blow in this hidden room at the top of The Muse Academy, it was The Vacuus.

And the Attic Keeper had dealt with them before.  And won.
Then, suddenly, a fresh burst of sunny wind came zinging through the attic room, scattering paintings and drawings and papers and books and pencils and paint palettes and brushes and blankets, pillows and rugs.
And the cat.  The big white fluff cat with the periscope tail went flying.


She leaped through the air, surfing the wind that had just blown in through the wall air vent that attached all the rooms inside The Muse Academy.  Four little Muses tumbled out of the vent and into the attic room, cozy and stuffed with all things creative.



They were each a different bright color, and had slightly different shapes.  But they were all just about the size of a favored coffee mug.


And they were trembling.
What was the source of the shaking?  The Vacuus, trying to get in?
Or from the cat’s steely green-eyed glare?
Or, from The Attic Keeper, who ignored the Vacuus howling and banging the window and quietly growled, “You’re not supposed to be here.  The Muse Academy is officially closed.  All Muses have been sent home.  The bank has foreclosed.  On all of it, the academy, the staff, the building, the campus.
“You’re not supposed to be here.  Especially not in my attic.  No one is allowed in my attic under any circumstance.  No one even knows I am here. You have to go. Now.”
Storm the Rescue Cat, who was named so because once, a long long time ago, on a highly rare occasion when The Attic Keeper had actually left her attic room to venture out into a fierce fall rainstorm and rescued this cat.  Whom, at the time, was tiny and skinny and shivering and did not speak for a long time, even though her new home in the attic was filled with soft pillows, high perches, a warm fire, and stacks of cans of tuna fish.

That was then.  Storm is huge and fluffy and swaggers with presence and confidence. The Attic Keeper hasn’t been out since then, and it is a source of mystery to me — how she gets all those flats of tuna fish up there and nobody knows she lives and works there in the attic a the top of Muse Academy.

“We can’t go home,” said Dance, shuffling his feet.
“We haven’t got any,” said Art.
“We are orphan Muses,” said Music, shaking his orange fuzzy head.
“Yeah,” said Book.  “No artist has chosen us yet.  We haven’t been placed.”
“But that’s not the real reason, is it, Muses?”  Attic Keeper eyed the Muses sharply.
The Attic Keeper leaned forward from her chair and put her hands on her knees, breathed in deeply and asked sternly,  “Muses, spill it. What, exactly, is the real reason you stayed on?”
Art Muse waved her hands in the air as Dance Muse put his tap shoes into action and  exclaimed,   “We’ve stayed on to save the day, of course! What else would we be here for?”


Book yelled out, too. “And those Vacuus are going to break through that window any minute now and we are all perished!”  She dove into a basket to hide, spilling its contents.  Rolls and scrolls of papers.  All over, now, scattering and rolling all across the floor.
“Ideas?”  Book asked, looking through each scroll of paper.
“Archives, if you must know.” Attic Keeper answered, with a sigh. “Those are all ideas. Old, unused ideas.  From The Academy, over time.  Abandoned.  Ideas that haven’t got any artists, either, just like you. ”
“But there are so many!” shouted Music in glee, as she plowed through many other baskets, all filled with ideas.
“Will the Vacuus suck them up, too, along with us, if they break in here?” Dance shivered  a bit as the pounding on the window grew louder, angrier, even.
“The Vacuus will suck us out of ourselves and inhabit our cells.”  Announced Art Muse.
The Attic Keeper was up now, cracking open a can of tuna on the food shelf.  She used a cranky old can opener that required a great deal of force.  Storm was wrapped around her arms as she worked the can opener, purring loudly and nudging her head against Attic Keeper’s hands.  She almost knocked the can opener out of her hand, she was so excited by the fishy aroma that filled the attic.
“No,” said The Attic Keeper.  “Vacuus won’t inhabit your cells.  They will inhabit your Self.  Your personality. Vacuus don’t have any of their own.  So they’ll force or trick you out of your own, and all the ideas and feelings and opinions and dreams and work you have done, are doing, and will do.”
The Muses fell silent.  The Attic room was entirely still and quiet, except for the fire’s warm crackling and Storm’s purring as she dipped her nose deeper into the tuna can.
“Oh, it’s these that they want!”  Art pointed to the baskets of ideas and scurried to pick up those that had rolled into nooks and crannies of the room.
“They want more than that.”  said Attic Keeper.  “Vacuus are entirely empty and have no capacity to use what they suck out.  So they are always voracious for more.  They are always on the prowl.”
Attic Keeper went to a small icebox and pulled out some bowls of olives, celery sticks, some kinds of salami wrapped up in wax paper that smelled spicy and savory, rounds of creamy and sharp cheeses, a selection of mustards and from a bread cupboard, she produced floury loaves and flaky thick bread slices.
She placed them out on a picnic blanket in front of the fire, motioned for the Muses to come and eat, and poured them all glasses of chocolate milk and cranberry juice.
As the Muses grew stuffed and sleepy by the warm fire and their feast and Storm curled up  on the edge of the big work table, Attic Keeper went back to her sketching.
She put on a pair of sunglasses that had one lens missing.  She drew for a while like that, and then put the lens on the other side of the glasses frames and continued drawing.
Art Muse asked, laying stretched out on a pillow, so toasty and cozy and full that she no longer heard the Vacuus outside. “Why do you have those on like that?” she asked.
Attic Keeper didn’t look up from her paper and charcoal pencil, the quick scratching noise of the lead on thick paper so pleasant and interesting to the Muses as well.  They were sitting up now, watching her work.
“To get a sense of shadow.  Negative space.  Most art, music, literature, acting, is about revealing the negative space.  Or, rather, getting the viewer involved in the art such that the viewer experiences the negative space, and thus, knows more of the real space.”
“I never got that, really,” said Book Muse.  “How can you produce something that isn’t really there and that is what makes your art, the art?”
“Wearing sunglasses with one lens helps you do that?” asked Dance.
“Haven’t you had your artists dance, or act,  on stage with blindfolds on?” asked Attic Keeper, a bit testily.  She was not used to company, and was growing more concerned by the minute of how she was going to pack of these Muses to someplace that was not yet evicted.
“No.” replied Dance.  A slight edge was in his voice.  “I never knew to do that.”
Art Muse interrupted. “I haven’t really known how to do that, either.”
“Well, maybe that’s a part of why you never got placed!”  Attic Keeper replied crabbily.  She was concentrating on her work, after all.  These Muses did not belong here in her attic.
Then she paused.  Sighed. Set her pencil and paper and glasses down on her work table.


Gave Storm a massage behind the ears, and said, “Okay.  First things first.  What you need to know the most is how to observe things.  Just get really good at observing things.  From all sorts of points of view. From being blindfolded, to laying flat on your back, to walking barefoot, to listening, listening to stories from other people.  And just people watching.  Trying new flavors of foods.
“And draw your observations out.  Doodle them. You can write them out, too, what you observe.  But it’s best to always carry a sketchbook and a pencil with you and just doodle what you observe.  And don’t observe what everybody else is.  Daydream.  Do your own daydreaming, and put it all in a sketchbook.”
“Haven’t got any sketchbooks or pencils or any supplies at all.”  Music Muse winced, scowled and shook his head.  “Academy’s shut down.  Supply cupboard’s bare.”
A silence fell over the little crowd, and as the fire minimized, the Vacuus banging around could be heard more pronouncedly.
Attic Keeper got up, slid two more logs into the fire place and coddled them into new warm flames with a bit of iron fence post.
“Come over here, then.” She motioned them to a far wall, where hung a long and wide ornamental rug.  A deeply decorated tapestry.  Images of all kinds embedded into the weave of the threads, telling stories up and down and left to right and in circles.
She pulled it to one side and revealed  large cedar wardrobe behind it.  She opened the wardrobe’s doors and what the Muses saw made them gasp.
In wonder.
Stacks and stacks of new, blank, ready-to-use sketchbooks, with jars and jars filled with stylus pencils, new and ready to use.
But that wasn’t what the gasping wonder was about.


The sketchbooks were sparkling and pulsing and glowing and beguiling the Muses to reach out and grab them up, open them to the first blank page and fill it with doodles, ideas, drawings, and words.
“Go ahead.” Attic Keeper said, “These are Observation books.  Go ahead. Help yourself.”  Attic Keeper was smiling now.  Gesturing to them to partake.
And that’s what the Muses did.  Grabbed up several of the Observation Books and the stylus pencils and opened them up and started to engineer their images and words onto paper.
But something else.  Something unexpected and that which, to this day, has remained unexplained.
With every stroke and punctuation of the stylus pencil, a sound was offered to what appeared on the page.  All kinds of sounds and soundscapes.  Water splashing.  Trains rumbling. Running feet. Seabirds cawing at an oceanside french fry stand.  Foghorns.  Rain on a tin roof.  Baby birds waking up at sunrise.  Pebbles being poured out of a backpack onto a garden patch.
And, if you pressed it just right, the stylus pencil would pour out color onto the paper.  Small color, big color, mixed color, vibrant or vague, in thin and thick lines and smudges and drips.
All night long, until they had fallen asleep right onto their working pages, the Muses sat by the fire and worked in their Observation Books.
What do you think their observations were about?
I don’t know myself, I wasn’t there.  But I can tell you that  stylus pencil of this ilk is very loyal to its Muse, and what it produces on paper cannot ever be seen by any other except to the Muse who employed it.
This happy scene would have indeed been happy, except for one thing.  This contentedness and focus and purpose within the attic enraged the Vacuus outside.
And they attacked that sun window with increasingly jealous fervor, anger, and a desire for revenge.
________________________This is the end of Part One.  What will happen to these brave Muses?  Will they save the day?  Or be evicted by the bank foreclosure committee? Will Attic Keeper turn her back on this challenge, and return to reclusivity? Will the Vacuus break through and suck all the Self out of the Muses?  And, will Storm the Rescue Cat learn how to operate that can opener herself?  Check back here soon, because  Part Two is to be continued soon.
Heidi D. Hansen is the creator, author and illustrator of The Attic Keeper and The Muse Academy, and these materials are copyrighted 2015-2017 to her. Permission and payment are required to print or use.
Heidi is available to consult with you about how to enrich your work, talent, or personal life using creative process.  Creativity Coaching is available at a fee of $55.00 per hour, online or in person in Vancouver, Washington. Major credit cards accepted.  Please call Heidi at (360) 892-5218 or email her at   dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com for a discussion.  Thanks, and enjoy your day!

Forest Bathing, Nativica style

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term for the experience of breathing in the goodness of the forest.  This may go beyond a meditative or philosophical perspective and some science research has explored that.  It comes down to a woodswalker breathing in molecules of tree sap.  Tree sap that carry a tree’s antibodies and, perhaps,  helps human health.

Being in Nativica is being in a place that provides.  Provides creative adaptive solutions to help our environment, and human well-being.  Woodswalking through Nativica, either outdoors in nature or through the native plant and habitat art here, can boost resiliency.

When you go on a woodswalk, peaceablepondreflect on the contrasts you see there.  Notice the differences in textures, size, and color.pondSpeaking of color, see nature as an artist’s palette.  Look for 5 shades of green.  Greens ranging from blue-green to red-greens with yellow greens up and down.

wetlandsMake up a haiku poem about what you see right in front of you, at that moment, from the tip of your tongue.

rabbitwoodsRun your fingers over some rough bark and then, into a bed of soft, moist moss.  Notice what plants are around you when you feel the humidity rise, or fall.  Is there mist in the air?  What does the sun look like through the branches right now?

emailsalmonfive Look at a plant you have seen many times before and use 3 new adjectives to describe it — words you’ve never used before.

104-0451_imgClose your eyes and turn around in back of you and feel the first plant in front of you.  Without opening your eyes, imagine that plant is speaking to you. What does it say?

____________________________________For meditation coaching, email Heidi Hansen at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com.  I can negotiate a fee structure that fits for you and can accept major credit cards.  Nativica, text and art, are by Heidi Hansen and copyrighted2001-2016.


What Nativica Has to Say


Nativica is a place.  A place in the Pacific North West where one can take a woodswalk and learn the rugged determination, sculpted grace and robust wildlife of our native plants and habitats.  It can also be a place in one’s imagination. What do these native plants and animals say to you?

wetlands104-0451_img(Left) Yellow Iris, stream turtle, snowberry, skunk cabbage, Vine Maple, blue dragonfly.  (Right) Doug Fir and Iris by moonlight on Larch Mountain.


000111aemailfouremailsalmonfiveA drop of rain.  Rivers that provide for our salmon runs.  Salmonberry, Bleeding Heart, Snowberry.  A Willow tree.  Native NW plants keep our rivers running and lower the carbon dioxide in the air we all breath. . Can you find the newt? Bee? Moth?   pondNative plants of the North West come in a palette of colors.  When planting with native plants, use the palette.  Blue hues towards the back, reddish greens towards the front.  Lime-yellows on top and bottom.  Your native plant garden can look like a painting. rabbitwoodsSnowshoe rabbit habitat on Mt. Hood, Riparian habitat at beaver Creek, Hummingbirds love our native honeysuckle.  You can hear them hovering at this creeping vine before you see them.  Stream turtle habitats that have helped our native turtle make a comeback.rivbeaverrivdeerrivturt

riverswan trumpeterswanTrumpeter Swans have made a comeback.  (Left) Western Red Cedar, Red Osier Dogwood, Sword Fern.  (Right) Our native NW orchid, the Fairyslipper, blooms in early spring when snow is still on the ground.

Nativica, words and text, are by Heidi D. Hansen and copyrighted2001-2016.  To inquire about purchase and permission to use, email at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com.  Major credit cards accepted.  Thank you!

How To Buy the Art of Nativica

Interested in purchasing Nativica art?  I am reasonable in my prices, provide educator’s discounts, and take online payments through my business account at http://www.paypal.com.

I have about 400 illustrations of native north west trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers, as well as animals, birds, butterflies and fish in their native plant habitats.

Digital images of individual plants for desktop printed stationaries are $12.99 each and sent to your email.  Comes with written permission to use.

Printed posters of the 22″ x 22″ “Nativica” is $45.00 plus shipping.

Email me with requests and inquiry about specific plant illustrations, or to negotiate a price that is right for you.

Thanks so much for enjoying Nativica!

Heidi Hansen,  email:  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com

Zeke Worthy Discovers Nativica

aaa1nativicanativicagarden Want to buy a Nativica poster or image for desktop stationary? email Heidi at  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com to talk!

Words and art by Heidi Hansen, copyright2016


Part 1

We open this book with a crisis. We open this book with a sound, a horrible crack and cackle carreening through the air and up against the sunrise attic windows. Rattling the glass, blowing out the latches and bursting open the only window of that cerebral topspace of The Muse Academy Swirling gusts of blackish moldy fumes that took shape in the hidden sky only because the sun was starting to rise.


“He’s not here,” growled the Head Vacuus in disgust and fury.

“Where did he go?” shrieked the icycle sharp Vaccus.

“I hate you!” yelled the thick stubby Vacuus, slamming the work table — the artist’s work table — against the far wall, scattering paints and brushes and pens and books and a clock and a telescope and the cat who had been sleeping there, now perched high in the rafters with her fur sprayed out like a spiny sea urchin. She hissed dewey spurts in confrontation.

“He’s where you will not get him,” calmly stated the Attic Keeper from a resting chair near the fireplace. The small glowing burm had not gone out when the Vacuus burst in, but had been reduced to flickers and twinkles.

“Curses!” shouted the Head Vacuus and started to leave out the open window. But then, stopped briefly and turned sneers towards the Attic Keeper. “But we will, you know. heh he heh heh.. We will. We always do.”

The Vacuus swooshed out through a slurping black hole which briefly sucked the oxygen out of the attic. For a moment, everything in the room, including the cat, became muted as the sound, textures and colors of the artist’s attic room became mute. Almost frozen although it was not cold. Just empty. Just a heavy pervasive nothingnessin the wake of the Vacuus.

The Vacuus storm could be heard in the distant outdoors, traveling east over the lower grounds of the Muse Academy campus, towards the woods in the distance.

“Please, Zeke,” the Attic Keeper murmered to herself as she winced and grimaced, closed her eyes tightly and raised her head toward the sky. Her hands caught the cat jumping down onto her lap. “Keep safe.”


Zeke Worthy loved storms. Although his task today was weighty, serious, perhaps even life-threatening, he began his adventure journey with a certain merriment that is common to storm lovers. A tingling sense of curiosity lifted his steps. An appreciation for the spontaneous unknown kept his boots moving at a brisk pace.

Electrity zinged in the air, over long, reaching branches of the Big Leaf Maple. The lacework of lichen and mosses that grew on them twitched a bit.

Then, a black form suddenly caught the back of Zeke’s head with a swirling cusp, and briefly he turned sharlply cold and stiff. All was not well with this storm. He had just been brushed by the tail end of a Vacuus and it was time to flee.

“Quickly now. Not dilly dally. Get to safety. The safety of the woods ahead. Quickly, Zeke, move fast and with wits about you,” the Attic Keeper murmered over the open sketchbook in front of her. She sat at her worktable, now, preparing a quill pen and ink bottle to draw apatch of Fairy Slipper.fairyslipperclump

The Attic Keeper was talking to Zeke. From the Attic, with windows closed and latched, unseen and unrecognized even to Zeke, her presence and communication was felt and heard through the most powerful tool — sometimes a weapon — an artist has. Her sketchbook.

The Attic Keeper had set her worktable straight, fed the cat a can or reassuring tuna, and was sitting at it with her sketchbook open and iluminated by a hearty, warming morning fire. Pages of native plant flowers, root studies, bulbs and leaves and trees and berries and birds and warblers, woodpeckers, squirrels and frogs were stacked up on her work table.trilliumovatumbulbpacificdogwoodcommoncamasvinemapleiristenax

She turned to a fresh page in her sketchbook, and there was Zeke, in real time, running down the path with one hand holding his hat on. Flailing with his walking stick, backpack of sandwiches and sketchbook and pens, running down a trail over the campus yards and towards the woods.

The Attic Keeper drew on the sketchbook page. She drew an extension of the path, and with the quill pen drew in pebbles and ferns, then a strong hedge. A thick Blueblossom hedge, with lattice work of Western Red Cedar for a canopy overhead.blueblossompath

“Take this path, Zeke.” She added a clucking squirrel in front of the Blueblossom. Seemed to pull Zeke along in the direction of safety, towards a larger woods behind the hedge.westerngraysquirrel

Frightened and brave at the same time, knees quivering but eyes roaming ahead, Zeke followed the pull. The silent voice that spoke to his feet with a genuine friendliness, as though he were being invited to a grand party of old friends, feasts of foods and platters of tasties made just for him.

Odd, he mused to himself. Am I running from the Vacuus, or going to a party?

Then, there was a hedge. And a doorway of buzzing bees feasting on the Blueblossom. They let him pass through.blueblossompath

Into Nativica. The place he had set out to find, but did not know how to reach. Suddenly, here he was. Here, in Nativica, Zeke would find the solution he had set out to find.peaceablepond

“Welcome to Nativica, Zeke,” said the Attic Keeper with a sigh of relief, speaking to the image of Zeke on the sketchbook page. . “Now, to find the solution that will save The Muse Academy. Make it possible for muse students to return. Get back the Ideas that The Vacuus stole. So we can have commerce again using our ideas.

“I will help you, Zeke. You don’t know me, and you don’t know I’m here for you through this sketchbook. Nobody knows I am here in the Attic. Everyone thinks the buidling is empty. Nobody knows you stayed on, either. Hiding out in empty classrooms and empty dorm rooms trying so hard to think of a way to save the Muse Academy. Keep it open. So the Muse students can return.

“Here we are together, trying to do the same thing, but unknown and unseen to each other. I’ll help you through this sketchbook. But, Zeke, there is someone else who knows where you are. The Vacuus.”


Part 2

Nativica knew, too. The native plants and animals and a hodge-podge of habitats of the North West are fully observant and responsible for their woodswalkers.

They perfectly knew Zeke was here.

Sparkling dewdrops from native northwest ferns — the Sword, Lady,  Maidenhair fern — splashed over him. The fern menagerie giggled at Zeke’s surprise.ladyfern1 maidenhairfern

At the shadowy roots of a Doug Fir tree grew luscious clumps of Trillium. Their little white petals, like nuns’ habits, the forest floor their monestary, nodded to Zeke in approval.trilliumovatum

A small grove of Paper Birch unrolled the creamy paper scrolls on their tree trunks and invited him, by name, to write a poem on those fine stationaries.paperbirchtrees

“You can talk?” Zeke wasn’t all that surprised, you know, that the plants of Nativica could talk, but he was surprised they knew his name.

A bunch of bright Red Osier Dogwood, that were hugging the banks of a salmon spawning stream, said softly, “Of course we know your name. We know just about everything about children of creation. We’ve been around a long time, you know. Native plants of the north west. We’ve been here forever. We’re old pro’s.”

“Why are you whispering?” Zeke bent down close to the Red Osier Dogwood, and could see, nestled by its roots sitting in the streambank, vibrant pink pink salmon laying their eggs.

“The eggs. We must be still for the eggs. Little air bubbles get trapped by my root system around the eggs, and my roots keep them snug in this stream.”salmonrun

Suddenly —

“WWOOOSH!” A thundering rattle shook the ground and trunks of the trees. A chill, the kind that sticks to your neck and locks your jaw, grabbed the air around Zeke.

The Vacuus. Trying to get in.vacuus

They did not.

“No worries, Zeke,” said a chipper voice. Nativica calmed and returned to being the balm of wild orderliness it was before.

Wild is right! That chipper voice belonged to a bike!

Free Range Bike, from Portland, Oregon,  leaned up against a Paper Birch Tree. He nodded a hello to Zeke, and another nod to a frog sitting in a paper coffee mug with a funky logo that said, “Hilla Beans Coffee.”freerangebike

“You okay, Barista? Zeke, meet Barista, my partner,” said Free Range bike. “She just finished putting on a training workshop for the frogs that live here in Nativica. They are learning new techniques of measuring toxins in the air as well as the water.”

“Frogs do that?” asked Zeke.

“Oh sure.” Free Range beamed at Barista with pride. “That’s their job. They’re skin is so porous — so very thin – air and water toxins can easily be absorbed, and measured with it. They report back to Barista, and Barista reports any kind of polution to the Big Guys in Portland. The human children of creation whose job it is to keep air and water clean for everyone. Frogs and people both and all in between!”

“Wow. Never knew!” Zeke shook his head with information overload. Far off, far away from Nativica but so loud he could still hear it, roared a Vacuus storm, angry at their failure.

Like any good woodswalker facing a violent storm, Zeke sat down to write a poem. Not wanting to peel away the Paper Birch’s lovely curled bark, he opened his sketchbook and took out a pen.

As soon as his pen met the page, Nativica started talking.

The old Doug Fir croaked, “Words change things, Zeke.”

“Comfort changes things,” said a native northwest Snowshoe rabbit, pure white all over and fluffy and twitching her nose as she sniffed at a Fairy Slipper. This tiny little native northwest orchid is the first to bloom in spring, sometimes poking right out of the snow!winterrabbitwoods

“Confidence changes things,” stated Tall Oregon Grape.talloregongrape

“You can change things.” Whispered the Attic Keeper.

She watched Zeke’s pen draw and write words that danced over like Glowbugs and took the form and texture and pattern of a poem.

Wait — they really are Glowbugs!544591_512059652178765_1454430970_n

Cheering happily, a great throng of twinkling lights flew up and around Zeke, his sketchbook and took his hat and flew off with it. Zeke gave chase after the Glowbugs with a merry laugh.

“Hey, give me back my hat!” Zeke ran up a rock to grab at the mischevious Glowbugs. Some were stiped, some were polka dotted, some had round wings, some had triangle wings, some had straight antennae, some had curly-cue antannea. They could not be caught but tossed back the hat.

Zeke jumped down off the rock. “You’re not native northwesterners!” he scolded the Glowbugs with a smile. “You’re just scamp -erners!”

Words change things. That stuck in Zeke’s mind.

A spindly, bending Ponderosa Pine branch handed Zeke a few pinecones to take home. “Pinecones change things, too.” she said. “Plant some where you live. Sandy soil will do fine.”ponderosapinebranchcone

Several kinds of seeds, bulbs, rhyszomes and nuts were gently tucked into Zeke’s backpack by the native plants — and the Western Gray Squirrel that had met him outside tthe Blueblossom hedge.

The squirrel told Zeke, “I think you came here to find a way to save your school. You can save us, too, at the same time. So we can be here in the future as long as we have evolved here in the past.”squirrel-running-on-cedar

“Adapt and evolve.” Zeke mused to himself, as he plucked a handful of small native northwest blackberries and popped them in his cheeks. “Now, there’s a solution.”

The native northwest Wild Strawberry raised its hand up at Zeke. “Us, too! Eat us, too! We are so fresh and delicious, you can even taste the clean stream water we drink!”strawberrybirdbutterfly

Old Doug Fir said, “Observe all around you. We are all children of creation. It’s just in us to survive and be even better than before. Even if grimey greedy foul forces try to suck the life out of you, you’ll find a new way of adapting and evolving.”

“Unless there’s too many toxins,” Barista cautioned. “There’s only so much a living thing can adapt to.”

“You can do it, Zeke,” Free Range Bike said. “Don’t let the Vacuus tell you who you are. Only you get to say who you are. What you create. Your ideas, what you want to do with them, how you can contribute to your ecosystem. Don’t forget, you are also one of this universal and equalizing gift: Our planet.”

And, from a distance, the Attic Keeper whispered, “The Vacuus can’t really do anything significant to you, Zeke.  Whatever they do can only be temporary because no matter what you lose or is taken, you always have your Self.  That remains.  Whatever you had to begin with, that’s where you begin again.”


Part 3

The Vacuus were howling closer now, and the sun was setting lower in the sky.

“Better get home, now, Zeke,” said Free Range Bike, “C’mon, I’ll give you a ride.”

Zeke said his thank you’s to all, and was made to promise to return very soon to Nativica. Especially to attend the Fall Leaf contest.

Free Range Bike checked the Hilla Beans coffee cup (must be a Seattle store, Zeke mused to himself) to see if Barista was situated safely, which she was. He motioned for Zeke to climb on his seat. “Remember, I do the pedaling,” said Free Range, “but hang on ’cause we’re gonna make a beeline home for you. Stay outta range of those filthy freaky whisps out there.”

A few Glowbugs lit their path home out of Nativica, as the Attic Keeper — cracking open a can of tuna for the cat — watched from her sketchbook.

“Nicely done,” she said to Zeke. “You didn’t need me so much after all!”


Free Range bike was hufffing and pufffing a bit as they rode up to the steps of the empty, quiet, darkened Muse Academy.

“My tires are a little flat.” he wheezed to Zeke. “Any chance you gotta tire pump in there?”

“They’re might be one up in the attic,” Zeke replied as he hopped off and skipped up the front steps. “I’ll go see. Be right back.”

Zeke zoomed up Four flights of stairs, pulled himself up the wall ladder to the attic trapdoor, and hoisted himself up and over. When he stood up, Zeke found himself face to face with an artist.

An artist holding out a big red tire pump. “Will you be wanting this, by any chance?” she said with a grin.


As they got to know each other that evening, over tuna sandwiches and cold milk and honey crisp apples and a comforting fire, Zeke and the Attic keeper hatched a plan to save the Muse Academy.

It involved unwrapping and dusting off an old paper printing press from the storage shed.

And, what Zeke discovered in his backpack.

When he opened his pack to show the Attic Keeper the seeds and bulbs and cones and nuts given to him from Nativica, he found several stacks of worn-out, bulging, frayed sketchbooks. The Muse’s ideas that had been stolen by the Vacuus! Given to him by Nativica!

“Somebody loves you.” The Attic Keeper looked at Zeke as he spread out the volumes of stories, poems, plays, songs, inventions, innovations, recipes, dance routines and drawings and doodlings and all manner of simple words from many languages sliding around.

All of that, became a book.

Stacks of beautiful, shiny new books. Books with drawings. Color drawings.

And guess who delivered those stacks of new tomes to the independant bookstores around the cities of the north west?

You gottit! Free Range Bike. With his partner Barista doing the geo-thermal -navigation.

The commerce from those booksales funded the Muse Academy from then on. The Muse students returned, learned, graduated and went out to plant the seeds of talent and knowledge that had helped them so much.

Zeke planted the seeds of Nativica. Everywhere that was sensible, and where he couldn’t plant seeds of plants, he planted seeds of knowledge and inspiration.

He taught everyone he could about native plants so they became popular and protected. So they can be used in the manner they were made for: To protect, preserve and inspire the children of creation and make conscious, careful wooksdwalkers of us all.


______________________________by Heidi D. Hansen, copyright2016, all rights reserved. Permission required to reproduce. email: dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com .